This week, the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico will begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, better known as NAFTA.
NAFTA, which has been governing our economy since 1994, is a bad deal. It has held down wages across North America. It has empowered global corporations to offshore jobs, shutter factories and drive small farmers out of business. It has driven away more than 850,000 U.S. jobs. It has made our economy more unequal and unfair.
Renegotiation offers a chance to give North America’s working families a new economic deal, so that any benefits of international trade can be shared broadly instead of being captured by the largest global corporations and their CEOs.
The first step to replacing NAFTA with a new economic deal is to negotiate in an open and transparent manner. If the proposals to fix NAFTA are only developed and discussed behind closed doors, how will ordinary people have a fair chance to review and influence these rules? If the negotiators claim we must trust them to do what’s best, but they won’t show us the new rules we will have to live under, the likelihood of a better deal is slim.
There is an old saying in the labor movement that if you are not at the table, you’re on the menu. We can’t hold our government accountable if we don’t know what it’s doing in our name.
Now is the time to eliminate old-style, secretive trade negotiations and usher in open, 21st-century negotiations that allow citizen participation. Isn’t that what democracy is all about anyway? Click here to send a message to your elected official about the kind of new trade deal that working people need now!